James Levine received $2.1 million in compensation from the Met for the 2010-2011 season, during which time he conducted 31 performances. His pay was about 150% that of Peter Gelb, who raked in $1.4 million in pay and benefits during that period. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
The Met has finally released the contents of the James Levine 40th Anniversary box sets separately for those of us who didn’t have $500 lying around. I had to have for myself the 1994 telecast of Richard Strauss’ Elektra. I love this opera and I think it’s as close as this composer and his librettist, Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, ever came to perfection. Almost a hundred minutes of brutal emotional agony sprinkled liberally with some deep seated neuroses and the kind of family problems that would make even the most seasoned social worker pause and call for backup. Where are the people who call opera boring? I want them all strapped into chairs in front of this performance right now. Read more »
Says the Met press office (a propos of nothing much on a quiet Friday afternoon): “Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi will conduct the Met’s new production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung which premieres January 27, 2012, and continues on January 31, February 3, 7, and 11 matinee. Luisi will also conduct the MET Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall on January 15, featuring Renée Fleming as soloist. He replaces the Met’s Music Director, James Levine, who is continuing his rehabilitation after a fall last September that necessitated emergency back surgery.”
Though the headline seems to apply a whole series of epithets to a revered critic (“Stand-In Meets Sweet Snake, Shrieky Diva, Grumpy Dad: Manuela Hoelterhoff”), the actual review of the Met’s Siegfried on Bloomberg offers more than purely comic interest. While La Hoelterhoff is no better than usual as an opera reviewer, she does briefly at least return to a line of work she does better than just about anyone else: cultural criticism.
Revealed: James Levine has had two back surgeries since the spring, but is described (by Tom Levine) as “very, very positive and very, very optimistic.” [NYT]
The Metropolitan Opera expects to achieve a balanced budget in 2011, the first for the company since 2004. In other good news, contributions and grants were up about 21% between 2009 and 2010; program service revenue rose about 6% in the same period. Maestro James Levine took a 5% pay cut, sending his 2010 compensation tumbling to only $1.5 million. [Bloomberg]
UPDATE, Tuesday, 7:45 AM: The Met sent out a press release at 1:27 AM New York time today announcing major changes to its roster for the tour of Japan this month. La Cieca has revised the following gossip item (which appeared at 11 PM last night) to reflect the Met’s confirmations.
The full-figured, frizzy-haired guardian of the status quo once more mounted the chariot to lay down the law earlier this afternoon. No, it wasn’t Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, but rather that other divinity, James Levine, who—La Cieca hears—postponed his well-deserved five-month rest and relaxation regime long enough to call the Met’s musical staff on the carpet.
And now Anthony Tommasini has joined the chorus calling for James Levine “to make his next contribution to the company he loves and step aside as music director.” Even the headline of his NYT piece echoes the talk on parterre a fortnight ago.